Physicalisches Cabinet

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January 2024: A project long in the making is finally online - a virtual tour of our historic collection (dated 2021). A big thanks to Scasa GmbH.

October 2023: Starting 12th of October 2023 the collection will now open on Thursdays from 12:00-2:00 pm until further notice (regular working days, holidays exempt).

September 2023: We have an article on our objects in the "Sammlungsschaufenster" of Forum Wissen. Enjoy the

The "Sammlungsschaufenster" within the "Forum Wissen" officially opens on December, the 15th 2022 at 7 PM. Further information is available on the website of the Sammlungsschaufenster.

The "Forum Wissen" as a museum combining all collections of the university is open since Summer 2022. Of course, also the "Physicalische Cabinet" is present with some objects (see. Link), among them a replica of the Vizeheliotrop of Carl Friedrich Gauß. An upcoming highlight in the Forum Wissen is the "Sammlungsschaufenster", where all collections have to possibility to exhibit changing objects. We will show three objects from the 20th century initially. One of them is an object at least some people will have had contact with in the past.

The research project on the Pohl collection has published a short film titled "Hinter den Schatten" giving insight into how teaching in experimental physics takes place in the tradition of Robert Wichard Pohl. It can be found in the AV-Portal of the TIB: Link (german only). Furthermore, we now do have a cabinet in the collection on Pohl himself.

As part of the public lecture series "Sach-Verstand" Michael Markert and Daniel Steil held a lecture titled "Robert Wichard Pohls langer Schatten. Innovative physikalische Lehre für das 20. Jahrhundert aus Göttingen". A recording can be found on the YouTube-Channel of the university (german only): Link.
Information concerning the progress of the research project on the Pohl lectures can be also found in the blog of Michael Markert (again only available in german): Schattenprojektionen.

The portal site of the collections of the University of Göttingen is officially online starting 04.12.17. Also our collection will present more and more objects in the coming months, come and visit.

Opening hours
O n Thursdays from 12:00-2:00 pm until further notice (regular working days, holidays exempt). Also prior to the Physics Colloqium during regular lectures, Mondays from 4:00-4:30 pm.

Sammlung Elektrophor
Lichtenberg figure for positive charge

At the entrance to the new lecture halls, one finds the collection of historic instruments. It mirrors, from the beginnings of systematic research in the 18th century to it’s most famous period as world leading center for physics and mathematics in the first half of the 20th century, the history of physics in Göttingen. One can imagine Lichtenberg sitting his desk making notes, an electrophorus nearby, with its shiny resin cake surface, surrounded by dull leather, misty glass and fragile brass crafted fragile artistically crafted instruments. It is the hands on experience that makes a tour through 250 years to an impressive experience of physics history.

Sammlung QM
Historic electron tube with photo of Reich, Born, Franck and Pohl in the background

Physicalisches Cabinet

The history of the musem began when the exhibits were moved from the Michaelishaus to the new physics building in the Bunsenstrasse luckily survived mostly undisturbed in a naturally acclimatized cellar almost 250 years. In the last century when the university had his 250th jubilee and the “Sammlung Physicalischer Apparate” of the I. Physics Institute was described and newly catalogued. The collection of historic instruments of the early day of physics in Göttingen was built up and found a new home in the museum „Physicalisches Cabinet and Lichtenberg collection“ at the entrance of the lectrue halls in the new physics building. The museum hosts in addition exhibits of the collection of historical instruments of the astrophysics observatory “Historische Instumente der Sternwarte”, geophysics “Geophysicalische Historische Sammlung” and on the birth of quantum mechanics. The unique contemporary witnesses of more than 250 years the physics tradition of the University of Göttingen connected with Lichtenberg, Weber, Gauss and the important developments in the field of quantum mechanics in the beginning 20th century. Guided tours with the current curator, I. Physics Institute, can be arranged to see the collection.

The Gauss-Weber telegraph

Further Reading

  • Introduction in German by G. Beuermann "Die Sammlung historischer physikalischer Apparate"

  • Introduction in English (from corporate image brochure) "Museum Physicalisches Cabinet“

  • Publication by H. Gönner "A brief History of Physics in Göttingen“

  • Sammlung 1
    A view into the actual exibition with new glass cabinets.

    External links (mostly German):

    Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

  • Einführung in sein Wirken Wikipedia

  • Literatur im Original - Bücher und online Dokumente über die Lichtenberg Gesellschaft

  • Sammlung Elektrisiermaschine
    Frictional electrical machine crafted after Le Roy, developed at around 1770.

    Carl Friedrich Gauß

  • Einführung in sein Wirken Wikipedia

  • Gauß in Göttingen SUB Göttingen-Webdoc

  • Gauß Jahr 2007 zum 230 Geburtstag

  • Literatur im Original - Bücher und online Dokumente über die Gauß Gesellschaft Göttingen

  • Göttingen im 20. Jahrhundert

  • Göttinger Nobelpreiswunder SUB Göttingen-Webdoc

  • Sammlung 2
    The Gauß-Weber telegraph Wikipedia